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50Ragtop’s build thread, will need your input!

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  • 50Ragtop’s build thread, will need your input!

    Looks like I joined this site 10 years ago in anticipation of eventually building a ‘50 Champion convertible. The car I have was bought in 1957 by my older brother in Sioux City, IA from a used car dealer for $150. He drove it a few years, then it got parked, or should I say “put out to pasture” for the next 15 years, maybe more. Along I come and dig it out of the ground and get it in one of my brothers sheds. There it sat for another 40 years. October 20, 2019 I pulled it out of the shed and brought it to my home to rebuild.
    My plan, or vision, is to build a resto/50’s custom. I envision a V8 automatic overdrive drivetrain, mustang 2 front crossmember and a Ford 8.8 differential. Lake pipes, black paint with ghost flames, 17” wheels and air conditioning.
    First thing I think I need to do is get the doors to fit properly, so I have some questions about that.
    How or where do you lubricate the door hinges? The doors seem to drag. If I get the doors to latch, the gap seems really large. Perhaps the latches themselves are frozen?
    Attached Files

  • #2
    I would first check for rust at the base of the A-pillar, and make any necessary repairs, before trying to get proper door alignment.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

    Comment


    • #3
      The convertible body has additional structure welded under the floors running inboard of the inner rockers. These torque boxes help compensate for the lack of a roof. If they have deteriorated the door frame may be compromised causing the doors to fit badly. It is a pity that none of the Studebaker vendors reproduce the torque boxes. This picture is a rusty torque box:
      Click image for larger version

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      This is an intact torque box and the frame: When the body is placed on the frame the fit is fairly tight between them. When I checked with the NSM archive they could not located the original drawings for the torque boxes.
      Click image for larger version

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      Comment


      • #4
        An ambitious project but sounds like it will be stunning.

        A good thought on the pillars and torque boxes. Initially you need to get the body squared up and braced. If the frame is good you can start by leveling it up and repairing the body so it sets correctly on it. If you're lucky the frame is solid and the body is also solid at the attachment points so it would just be a matter of adjustment on the door.

        IAC, you said the hinges were stiff so I'd start by freeing them up and getting the doors to fit. That will probably include racking the body to get the gaps correct. When that's all done, brace the heck out of the body to keep it square.

        Then proceed with frame mods or new frame and put the body back on the new frame and square it up with the frame. Rebrace if necessary. Now you can pull the body, do all the repairs necessary and move forward.

        BTW, the hog troughs are just sheet metal that can be bent on a home sized brake from Harbor Freight. My 54K looked like the picture and I fabed them from 16 ga sheet steel using a 24" brake and just MIG welded them together. I can post a picture of the rough finished ones on the body if necessary.

        Did I mention that squaring up the body is kinda important early in the build!!!????

        Good luck, Bob
        Last edited by sweetolbob; 10-22-2019, 06:34 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          My 60 Lark convert was rusted in floor and hog troughs as shown in the picture. My frame was OK. I removed the front end sheet metal and used 2 come alongs fastened to the end of the frame and top of the firewall to correct door sag and correct the door openning. Once things were where they should be, I cut out the floor and rusted portions of the troughs. To make a long story short, 2 winters and 10lbs of mig wire later, you could open and close the doors without the come alongs. THEN I removed the doors and rear fenders to repair the rust. A lot of work, challenging, but rewarding. Using this method you know the doors will fit the openning when you are done fixing the rust. Good luck.
          Bob
          Bob
          Welland Ontario
          60 Lark Convertible
          64 Daytona
          sigpic
          "They were meant to be driven ... so keep on cruizin"

          Comment


          • #6
            The 50 Champion frame is pretty light weight. make sure you beef it up enough to handle the V-8 engine's power.
            RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

            17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
            10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
            10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
            4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
            5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
            56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
            60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

            Comment


            • #7
              Thank you all for the replies. I looked underneath when I had it on the trailer and was expecting to see a big X brace on the frame. So the large torque boxes make a lot of sense. As you can see, there’s not muck left of mine. Fortunately I can fabricate parts and I have a great source for sheets of steel. You can also see lower A pillar rust as well. Question! Do the torque boxes run the length of the rocker area? And it looks like body to frame bolts go through the torque boxes. I’ll also need floor and trunk. I’ve found Classic Enterprises that make these as well as rockers. The also have som body braces but I assume no need for those on a convertible with the torque boxes taking their place. Sorry, bad pic of the A pillar.
              Attached Files

              Comment


              • #8
                I would get a better body to start with.
                Gary L.
                Wappinger, NY

                SDC member since 1968
                Studebaker enthusiast much longer

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yes the torque boxes do run the length of the rockers. This Illustration doesn't show the rear end closure of the box. As I understand the boxes do not share walls with the rockers. As you are not restoring the car and plan power upgrades you should feel free to design your own without concern for how Studebaker did it. You just need enough strength in the right places for your needs.

                  Click image for larger version

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                  • #10
                    Me Personally, I would pick a good donor body and transfer the Convertible stuff to it.
                    Whatever you do, don't toss anything until after you drive it. Maybe not even then.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Deffinitely different from the Lark design that has an "X" in the frame. In the Lark design, the rockers did provide support for the firewall. Mine did not stop flexing until I had both inner and outer rocker pannels welded in. As I said good luck.
                      Bob
                      Bob
                      Welland Ontario
                      60 Lark Convertible
                      64 Daytona
                      sigpic
                      "They were meant to be driven ... so keep on cruizin"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'm doing a similar conversion to an equally rusty 50 Champion convertible. I'm in the process of placing the body onto a 64 Daytona 4 Door frame. Right now a solid 50 Champion 4 Dr body is setting on the 64 frame to get valuable information and make the needed modifications to the frame prior to installing the convertible body. I'm using the 64 passenger and trunk floor along with the center section of firewall. This gives me the clearance for the original 289 and automatic from the 64. Also gives me the swing brake pedal and master cylinder mount.
                        If Ford, GM and MOPAR can make a retro car using their modern chassis and an old body style, so could Studebaker.
                        Good luck with your build.
                        sigpic1966 Daytona (The First One)
                        1950 Champion Convertible
                        1950 Champion 4Dr
                        1955 President 2 Dr Hardtop
                        1957 Thunderbird

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Considering you are contemplating major changes why not consider an S-10 frame. Easy to modify and will hold serious power. It's been done several times on these era Studes as a Google search will tell you. Here's a start from the HAMB. Hokey Ass Message Board, which is a good source of modifications and custom work.

                          https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/...r-clip.730820/

                          Bob

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thank you everyone for the ideas and comments, I really appreciate you taking the time to help me. I had considered what it would take to transfer the convertible parts to, say a 50 2 door sedan. I know a guy locally that has one and would sell so I might go look at it. Transferring/ melding the convertible parts may be just as much work as fixing what I have. I’ll need to think that one through. A better convertible body may be difficult to find and expensive. Funny thing the S10 frame conversion was mentioned. There is a shop here in town that does nothing but S10 frame conversions. I believe most are for old pickups, not cars, if any. At least that is what I was told when I stopped by to visit them shortly after they opened for business. For now, I’m leaning toward fixing what I have and when the time comes, I will strengthen the original frame. After all, I do work in the steel business and have a nephew into racing, so I have a lot of resources nearby. Also, one last thing. This is going to be a five year, maybe more project. I’m in no hurry.
                            p.s. The S10 frame conversion company is called Code 504

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              A couple months have past by and I have made little progress other than taking things apart. The rust is really bad and has taken it's toll on this car. I have a line on three 2 door sedans locally so I am studying the leaded joints at the windshield and the rear section (back seat) up to the B pillar. I also have a member here with a line on a 47 convertible. Sounds like it's in boxes. I believe the trunks are the same so I'm guessing the bodies are very close? I do have a good front clip (fenders/hood) one good left rear fender. My right rear fender could be salvaged. Any confirmation on a 47 body as a good doner for a 50?

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